DBOX: Traditional storytelling with modern workflows

Design in Motion

Last modification: 5 Oct, 2018
Duration
6 mins

Guest point of view by Christiaan Klaassen, CGI director at DBOX.

 

We’re storytellers first and foremost. It can be hard to remember that as new technology comes out. New techniques are discovered, and our jobs continue to evolve. But it’s something we need to hold on to as we deliver services to our clients.

 

DBOX recently worked on a project that really drove that point home. 432 Park Avenue in midtown Manhattan is the tallest residential building in the Western Hemisphere. It was designed by Rafael Vinoly Architects. At the low-end, an apartment costs $17 million (USD). Yes, you read that right. The penthouse sold for $88 million. Needless to say, the developer selling these apartments was looking for a very exclusive, targeted audience.


 

Image courtesy of DBOX.
 

 

A structural narrative

DBOX was retained to provide a series of collateral used to create a luxury feel around the property. The design concept was derived from a Joseph Hoffman piece in a simplistic form of the square. This became the foundation for the project, and a visual element we referenced again and again throughout the different media that we produced.

 

 

Image courtesy of DBOX.
 

 

The project came with a challenge: every deliverable we created needed to cater to a very specific audience. To maintain exclusivity for the property during the pre-sale period, we developed the marketing suite which served as an invitation-only sales office, along with its grand finale: a magical short film featuring a rendering of 432 Park Avenue and a vision of the epic and luxurious lifestyle that comes with it. The film even featured Philippe Petit, the famed high-wire artist who is known for his walk between the WTC Twin Towers in 1974.

 

 


Image courtesy of DBOX.
 

 

We also developed a third piece of collateral that - while somewhat traditional - was far from typical. We decided that a high-quality, fine-art style coffee table book was the perfect medium in which to tell this story. It wasn't your typical real estate brochure: no floorplans were included, instead, it was all about New York and the lifestyle, art, and culture that comes with it. It was presented exclusively to prospective buyers invited to tour the marketing suite, featuring articles about the building and the lifestyle that comes with it.

 

 

Image courtesy of DBOX.
 

 

A building with character

The book cover was important because we used this as a storytelling mechanism to introduce the characteristics and personality traits of our protagonist: 432 Park Avenue itself. It wasn't about the architecture or the developer: the address was the building’s personality. Even though it's a tall building, 432 Park Avenue is smack in the middle of midtown Manhattan where it can get lost, so it was essential to establish both its size and proximity to other New York City landmarks.

 

 

Image courtesy of DBOX.
 

 

The imagery was a combination of photography and CG rendering composited together with the help of 3ds Max. We employed several tricks to highlight the city's landmarks: by photographing Manhattan on a misty morning, for example, we were able to simplify the skyline so that only the larger structures - such as 432 Park Avenue - would naturally stand out. Dramatic lighting was also key when photographing landmarks since daylight imagery tends to flatten the skyline and give the city a cluttered look.

 

 

Image courtesy of DBOX.

Image courtesy of DBOX.
 

 

Flushing out these details was important to lay this foundation — almost like laying down character traits at the beginning of a novel or movie —so we could effectively tell the brand’s story. It was this kind of inspirational lifestyle and a celebration of New York culture and history that fed into our narrative.

 

A lively interior

Once inside the building, we wanted to maintain the feeling of exclusivity. To accomplish this, we created a scene with an exclusive dinner party in one of the apartments that the reader would view through a window from the outside. The guests were seen socializing and having great conversations inside the apartment, letting us showcase this luxury lifestyle from the point of view of someone looking in, someone looking for an invitation. For the casting, we insisted on your everyday, average-looking person, rather than a supermodel, to play the host. We wanted readers to envision themselves living here, surrounded by luxury and glamour.

 

 

Image courtesy of DBOX.


Image courtesy of DBOX.
 

 

Even the shots of each individual room contributed to this exclusive, high-end narrative. In fact, the furniture was all from Sotheby’s auction houses including one the most expensive chairs ever sold at auction (for a cool $27 million).

 

Elevating everyday moments

We also wanted to give potential buyers an idea of the kind of experience they could expect in this building. Imagine sitting at breakfast, looking out over the view - we really sought to capture the idea that these everyday moments were truly extraordinary.

 

 

Image courtesy of DBOX.


Image courtesy of DBOX.
 

 

We even hired an editor from New York Magazine to pen an article about her favorite bathrooms in the building. That’s a novelty. How many people can say that a big-name magazine editor reviewed their bathroom?

 

 

Image courtesy of DBOX.


Image courtesy of DBOX.
 

 

The next chapter

Starting with the cover and flowing throughout the pages, the book set a narrative about aspiration, high-end luxury, and exclusivity that the property used to help prospective buyers envision themselves living in the apartments.

We recently completed VR photography shoots and documented one of the penthouses with interior designer Kelly Behun, so we're also employing more out-of-the-box media and new techniques in marketing the properties.

 

 

Image courtesy of DBOX.
 

 

We let the personality of the building’s address and the New York City skyline shine through in the photographs we took and the images we designed. By combining photography with CG renderings, and simulating a seemingly tangible experience, the book - albeit a traditional medium - was instrumental in telling the story of 432 Park Ave and attracting the right audience using modern techniques.

 


Christiaan Klaassen directs the CG & VR teams at DBOX’s London and Hong Kong studios. Since joining DBOX in 2010, he has overseen CG for internationally recognized projects including Foster + Partners’ winning competition entry for 425 Park Avenue, The Buckingham by Brockton Capital, and South Quay Plaza by Berkeley Group. His recent work has focused on the development of VR (virtual reality) for immersive experiences for luxury real estate, commercial and cultural sectors. Current clients include; West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, Swire Properties, Squire & Partners, Eric Parry Architects and UNStudio.
Tags
  • 3ds Max
  • Design
  • Design Visualization
  • Architectural Visualization
  • Future of making things
  • Archviz
  • Design Viz
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